Aug 29, 2014

When Grab and Go Food Done Right - Lemonade Newport Beach (Inside Fashion Island Mall)

A friend suggested meeting up at Lemonade for a quick and healthy lunch the other day. This grab and go/cafeteria style restaurant is located inside Fashion Island, on the second floor close to the fountain. 

Outdoor seating area -

Entrance -

High ceiling with soft yellow and green color design give a casual/relaxing tone to the space -

Indeed it was a great choice. The restaurant has a wide selection of multi-cultural cuisine ranging from red curry salmon to double Decker grilled cheese sandwich. 

On top of all the savory dishes, Lemonade also carries various salads, dessert, and my favorite thing during this visit - lemonade. 

Never a big fan of lemonade, then later realized that I was just never met the right one. The restaurant carries seven different kinds of lemonade for $3/cup: old fashioned, cucumber mint, blackberry thyme, watermelon rosemary, ginger peach, blood orange, and Arnold Palmer. 

My oh my, the cucumber mint flavor I had immediately converted me to a lemonade lover. It was refreshing with just the right amount of mint used to give you a slight tingling sensation. There are also tiny bits of cucumber pulps on the bottom, no doubt a perfect summer drink (non-alcoholic wise). 

The dessert on the side is coconut layer cake $5. Very coconuty with generous amount of coconut flakes. The cake itself is light and airy.

The savory dishes all look so fresh and delicious -

Some lighter choices -

Array of salad -

Sandwich samples including buttermilk baked chicken, ham/manchego/quince, turkey, Masala green apple curry chicken, SW turkey club, herb grilled chicken, and grilled cheese -

For sweet-tooth diners -

Moroccan chicken with olives $7, one portion of beet and orange salad, one portion of radish/tuna/sesame salad, side of basmati rice $1.5 -

The chicken was highly seasoned with herbs, but the minty sensation prevails. Olives has a texture similar to grapes, which can burst in your mouth when biting into it. Unfortunately for the salad, the beet wasn't cooked long enough for my taste, didn't really care for the inconsistent texture and taste inside and out. 

The watermelon radish was so pretty that I just had to grab some to my plate -

They even added black sesame seeds, I'm sure partly for the flavor; partly for the look of real watermelon. Asian style vinaigrette dressing. 

Quinoa, tuna, and avocado wrap -

Kale salad, carrot salad, fish -

Mac'n cheese $3.75 -

The mac'n cheese here is more leaning towards a soft texture instead of al dente. Very cheesy, creamy - gooey goodness. 

Food was decent, and the service was great too. The server was explaining to first comers about how the restaurant works and how to order their food. Always smiling, the whole staff has a friendly vibe which can be felt especially when talking to customers. There are also other servers cleaning the tables constantly, keeping the dining area tidy at all times.

If only all grab and go can be this good.

Cindy's rating: 7

Lemonade - Orange County Newport Beach
987 Newport Center Drive (inside Fashion Island Mall)
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 717-7525

Operating hours: Daily 11 a.m. - 9:05 p.m.

Aug 24, 2014

No Fuss Cooking - Simple Oven Roasted Broccoli with Parmigiano Reggiano and Balsamic Vinegar

Perhaps...a simple and easy cleaning side dish after the weekend?

Simple oven roasted broccoli with Parmigiano Reggiano and balsamic vinegar -


  • 2 broccoli
  • Generous amount of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • Some sea salt
  • Some freshly ground black pepper
  • Some olive oil


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Break the broccoli into smaller florets. Don't waste the stems, just cut off the very tough bottom and peel away the fibrous outer layer. Chop into large bite size pieces. Transfer the broccoli into a foil made container on a baking sheet, the foil will make the cleaning work a lot easier after baking.

Sprinkle a little salt and some black pepper throughout, also drizzle some olive oil. Into the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Take out the baking sheet and add a generous amount of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano on top of the broccoli. Evenly drizzle about 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Back into the oven and bake for another 10 minutes.

Once ready, remove from heat and sprinkle even more cheese if desired. 

Serve this side dish when still hot, preferably with seared fish or steak. 

Sometimes I'll take a few bites as my light dinner meal. It's not as plain as steamed veggies especially with such high quality cheese and a kick from the vinegar. Definitely gives me more satisfaction when I'm trying to hold back on night time carb intakes. 

Other no fuss cooking recipes:

Fancy salad is not as hard as it looks - utilizing store bought ingredients to create restaurant quality greens
Baked salmon fillets with easy dill yogurt dressing
Cooking for one - Japanese cold noodles with the best in season cherry tomatoes plus a touch of lemon
Plum tomatoes and two cheese blend tarts using puff pastry sheet

Aug 16, 2014

Make Ahead Recipe: Spaghetti with Pesto Made with Anchovies, Green Olives, and Parsley

Traditional pesto comes with basil and pine nuts as main ingredients. As for this recipe, we are going to have a little twist and substitute basil with parsley. To enhance the flavor, anchovies, green olives, lemon, and lime are also incorporated into the sauce. 

Ingredients (for 6 to 8 portion)?

  • 1 pack/500 grams of squid ink spaghetti
  • 30 small/medium sized peeled and deveined shrimps
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of red chili flakes
  • Some salt
  • Some pasta water
  • Some grated Taleggio cheese

For the parsley pesto:

  • 28 pitted green olives
  • 10 anchovies in oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 big bundle of parsley (save a little for garnish)
  • 1 lemon (both juice and zest)
  • 1 lime (both juice and zest)
  • 1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts
  • Lots of olive oil (I used about 250 grams)
  • Some freshly ground black pepper


Toast the pine nuts till it get slightly light browned color and the nutty aroma comes out -

Transfer the toasted pine nuts into a food processor. Also add in all the remaining ingredients except olive oil listed under the "parsley pesto" section. Give it a few pulses then pour in the olive oil, blend till smooth or slightly grainy depending on your preference -

Bring a big pot of water to a boil and add in one large spoonful of salt. Cook the spaghetti in the pot till al dente in texture. Save one cup of pasta water before draining, we might need that to dilute the pasta sauce later.

Peel and devein the shrimps. Peel and finely chop 2 more garlic cloves. 

Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan or enough to evenly coat the bottom. Add in chopped garlic along with red pepper flakes, turn to medium heat. Cook for one minute then add in the shrimps. Sear till 50% cooked through. 

Pour in the parsley pesto and heat it up for about one minute. Add in drained pasta and mix well. See if the sauce needs to be diluted a bit, if so, pour in some pasta water we saved earlier till desired consistency.

Transfer the spaghetti to the serving plate and top with generous amount of grated Taleggio cheese. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with Tabasco sauce if a more sourish taste is preferred.

The parsley pesto can be prepared one to two days before serving. The citrusy juice and the zest will keep the pesto fresh while stored in the fridge. You can even grate the cheese in advance, that should save a lot of prep and cleaning work when you're about to serve the pasta.

Other pasta recipes:

Fusion paste recipe: creamy and garlicky pork spaghetti
Wine pairing: lamb ragu with Punica Barrua 2010
Spicy chicken and broccoli spaghetti, topped with grated Pecorino Romano and poached egg